Russian forces kill militants, destroy drone stockpile in Syria

An officer takes pictures of drones allegedly used during recent attacks on Russia's bases in Syria, at a briefing in the Russian Defence Ministry headquarters in Moscow on January 11, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 12 January 2018
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Russian forces kill militants, destroy drone stockpile in Syria

MOSCOW: Russia's defence ministry said on Friday it had destroyed a stockpile of drones in Syria's Idlib province after militants used drones to attack its bases in the country last week, Russian news agencies reported, and said it had also found and killed the group of militants which attacked its air base in Syria in December.
Two Russian service personnel were killed in a mortar attack on Russia's Hmeimim base in western Syria on Dec. 31.
The militants were found and killed by Russian Special Operations forces, according to the Ministry statement.
Last weekend, rebels launched a drone attack on Hemeimeem and a Russian naval base in Tartus, which Russian military forces repelled.
“During the final stage of the operation a Russian Special Operations unit located the base camp of the militant saboteur group near the western border of Idlib province. As the terrorists arrived at the location, the entire group was eliminated with a high-precision ‘Krasnopol’ weapon as they were about to board a minibus,” the statement read.
Russian military intelligence also found a location in the province where the militants assembled and stored unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV). The facility was subsequently destroyed with a high-precision strike. 
Russia launched its campaign in Syria in September 2015.


US accepts Assad staying in Syria — but will not give aid

Updated 18 December 2018
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US accepts Assad staying in Syria — but will not give aid

  • James Jeffrey said that Assad needed to compromise as he had not yet won the brutal seven-year civil war
  • Trump’s administration has acknowledged, if rarely so explicitly, that Assad is likely to stay

WASHINGTON: The US said Monday it was no longer seeking to topple Syrian President Bashar Assad but renewed warnings it would not fund reconstruction unless the regime is “fundamentally different.”

James Jeffrey, the US special representative in Syria, said that Assad needed to compromise as he had not yet won the brutal seven-year civil war, estimating that some 100,000 armed opposition fighters remained in Syria.

“We want to see a regime that is fundamentally different. It’s not regime change —  we’re not trying to get rid of Assad,” Jeffrey said at the Atlantic Council, a Washington think tank.

Estimating that Syria would need $300-400 billion to rebuild, Jeffrey warned that Western powers and international financial institutions would not commit funds without a change of course.

“There is a strong readiness on the part of Western nations not to ante up money for that disaster unless we have some kind of idea that the government is ready to compromise and thus not create yet another horror in the years ahead,” he said.

Former President Barack Obama had called for Assad to go, although he doubted the wisdom of a robust US intervention in the complex Syrian war. and kept a narrow military goal of defeating the Daesh extremist group.

President Donald Trump’s administration has acknowledged, if rarely so explicitly, that Assad is likely to stay.

But Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned in October that the US would not provide “one single dollar” for Syria’s reconstruction if Iran stays.

Jeffrey also called for the ouster of Iranian forces, whose presence is strongly opposed by neighboring Israel, although he said the US accepted that Tehran would maintain some diplomatic role in the country.

Jeffrey also said that the US wanted a Syria that does not wage chemical weapons attacks or torture its own citizens.

He acknowledged, however, that the US may not find an ally anytime soon in Syria, saying: “It doesn’t have to be a regime that we Americans would embrace as, say, qualifying to join the European Union if the European Union would take Middle Eastern countries.”